Meralco battles Phoenix for the twice-to-beat edge in quarters

Meralco battles Phoenix for the twice-to-beat edge in quarters

Games Today
Smart Araneta Coliseum
4 p.m. — Phoenix vs Meralco
8 p.m. — NLEX vs Converge

A COVETED Top 4 ranking with twice-to-beat advantage in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals is within sight for both Meralco and Phoenix.

Expect the Bolts and the Fuel Masters, currently in a logjam for No. 2 at 7-2, to pull out all the stops to get there.

With this as backdrop, Meralco and Phoenix engage today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in a livewire duel with one of the sought-after playoffs bonuses on the line.

Game time is 4 p.m. with the victor taking the second incentive in the Last-8 after Magnolia (9-2) and leaving the loser in a race with the charging San Miguel Beer (7-3) and Barangay Ginebra (7-3) for the remaining two.

“Very crucial (game) for both teams,” Phoenix coach Jamike Jarin. “As far as I know, whichever wins gets the twice-to-beat advantage, Top 4, so we have to prepare and be ready.”

Meralco counterpart Luigi Trillo stressed how a loss could mess up things for his squad.

The Bolts hope to build on their 85-80 verdict over pacesetting Magnolia (9-2) in Iloilo over the weekend in this pivotal encounter while the well-rested Fuel Masters look to rebound from 96-117 loss to San Miguel Beer last Christmas.

Meanwhile, ninth-running NLEX (3-6) fights to stay in the hunt for the eighth and last quarters berth as it battles also-ran Converge (1-8) at 8 p.m. The Road Warriors are eyeing to draw level with idle TNT (4-6) at No. 8.

Frankie Lim’s team has brought in a new import in Deandre Williams Baldwin in place of Stokley Chaffee Jr. in a bid to salvage its bid.

Williams Baldwin is coming off a stellar stint with Memphis in the NCAA, where he logged impressive averages of 17.69 points, 8.17 rebounds, 2.91 assists, and 1.46 steals per game in his senior year.

Though out of it all, the FiberXers are expected to fight for pride and create momentum for next conference before they bow out of the season-opening tournament. — Olmin Leyba